Finding Calcutta: What Mother Teresa Taught Me About Meaningful Work and Serviceby Mary Poplin
Lifelong educator Mary Poplin, after experiencing a newfound awakening to faith, sent a letter to Calcutta asking if she could visit Mother Teresa and volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity. She
"Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are. . . . You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see." --Mother Teresa
Lifelong educator Mary Poplin, after experiencing a newfound awakening to faith, sent a letter to Calcutta asking if she could visit Mother Teresa and volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity. She received a response saying, "You are welcome to share in our works of love for the poorest of the poor." So in the spring of 1996, Poplin spent two months in Calcutta as a volunteer. There she observed Mother Teresa's life of work and service to the poor, participating in the community's commitments to simplicity and mercy. Mother Teresa's unabashedly religious work stands in countercultural contrast to the limitations of our secular age.
Poplin's journey gives us an inside glimpse into one of the most influential lives of the twentieth century and the lessons Mother Teresa continues to offer. Upon Poplin's return, she soon discovered that God was calling her to serve the university world with the same kind of holistic service with which Mother Teresa served Calcutta.
Not everyone can go to Calcutta. But all of us can find our own meaningful work and service. Come and answer the call to find your Calcutta!
For better or worse, Mother Teresa of Calcutta has become the contemporary world's model of piety and sanctity, arguably more visible and accessible even than the Pope. So it was all the more unsettling when Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta(ed. by Brian Kolodiejchuk) revealed that her life was one of miserable struggle against "the dark night of the soul." Dominican Fr. Murray (The New Wine of Dominican Spirituality) offers a brief but sincere effort, from a devout Catholic standpoint, to make sense of the disturbing revelations. He admits that her perseverance in devout love of God and her fellow creatures in spite of her sense of abandonment is a "mystery" but suggests that the answer may lie in her letter to a friend: "Darkness may cover your soul...but be happy it is like that-for that too is the living proof that He has accepted you."
Poplin (education, Claremont Graduate Univ.), who spent two months in 1996 as a volunteer for Mother Teresa in Calcutta, combines a peek inside daily life at the Missionaries of Charity, an oblique account of Poplin's own movement from disbelief to piety, and a call for the integration of Christian perspectives in the modern academy. These important books, Murray's in particular, go far toward reclaiming Mother Teresa from the status of contemporary stereotype of religious commitment. For most collections.
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Dallas Willard, professor of philosophy, University of Southern California, and author of The Divine Conspiracy and Hearing God
Christopher L. Heuertz, international director, Word Made Flesh, and author of Simple Spirituality: Learning to See God in a Broken World
James A. Herrick, Guy Vander Jagt Professor of Communication, Hope College, author of The Making of the New Spirituality and Scientific Mythologies
Kelly Monroe Kullberg, founder, The Veritas Forum, and author of Finding God Beyond Harvard: The Quest for Veritas
C. John Sommerville, author of The Decline of the Secular University
James W. Sire, author of The Universe Next Door and Habits of the Mind
Father Angelo Devananda Scolozzi, U.F.W., Centro de Espiritualidad Madre Teresa, Chihuahua, Mexico
Phyllis Tickle, former religion editor, Publishers Weekly, and compiler of The Divine Hours
Albert Haase, O.F.M., director, School of Spirituality at Mayslake Ministries, and author of Coming Home to Your True Self: Leaving the Emptiness of False Attractions
Meet the Author
Mary Poplin (Ph.D., University of Texas) is a professor of education at Claremont Graduate University in California, where she has served as director of the teacher education program and dean of the School of Educational Studies.
Poplin conducts research inside urban classrooms and schools that promote both justice and accountability. She teaches courses on pedagogy, history and philosophy of education, as well as Christian principles related to these areas. She is also a frequent speaker at Veritas Forums and for both Protestant and Catholic retreats across the country.
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